Gender just society has been the overall vision and core value of the Institute of Human Rights Communication Nepal (IHRICON) since its inception in 2000. We went through almost all the values of gender justice like Women in Development (WID), Women and Development (WAD) and Gender and Development (GAD), and other stream of thoughts that have been practiced across the globe. Although the WID was an approach to development projects that emerged in the 1970s, calling for treatment of women issues in development projects, we were practicing the same concept even after decades. WID was criticized for the GAD approach terming it limited in scope, even if contributing modestly to improving women’s economic conditions, but, overall, neglecting their social, economic and political empowerment in the development context. Against this background, IHRICON strives to find the roles of men and boys for gender equality.
Eventually, our efforts and endeavors were recognized by a larger community of the UN agencies, INGOs, NGOs and individuals associated with MenEngage Alliance Nepal, and IHRICON was selected as the secretariat. We are working as a coordinator for the movement of engaging men and boys for the gender just society since February 2014. The goal is the same, all the women and girls will have equal rights as enjoyed by men and boys, but the strategy has been changed. Now the concept of engaging men and boys is in our priority with a wider space in order to change the society through empowerment of women and girls.
IHRICON has been at the forefront of attempting to improve the rights of women and children in Nepal. We have carried out some projects which were previously unheard of in the country to ensure improvements. We believe that the current democratic change and the culture of human rights are the result of consortium efforts of our work and that of many other likeminded organizations in Nepal. In fact, when we were implementing the concept of UNSCR 1325 in four districts of the country in 2003 by focusing to the grassroots level women and girls, we did not take into account its larger impact. But, now we realize that it was a worthwhile effort made for the society as hundreds of agencies, organizations and government offices are running after the concept of 1325, whereas we are the pioneer to introduce the concept in the Himalayan state Nepal. Our strategy of partnering with media people has been gearing up to achieve the objectives as per the expectations.
We have a herculean task to make people aware of the fact that patriarchy has generated a negative masculinity vibe leading to victimization of not only of women and girls but also men and boys, and sexually minority groups. Patriarchy is identified main source cause of creating practices of socio-cultural, political and economic discriminations that nurture imbalances in the society. Political leadership and all state mechanisms need to be revised as per the concept of the gender just society. But, almost all the sectors that are enjoying the fruits of patriarchy are not ready to give up the power. Social movement with the force of alliance is imperative to pile pressure on authority and the stakeholders. We now believe that the moment has come to hand the torch of non-violence to all the nations and peace loving people of the world. I would like to recall the words of Mahatma Gandhi—the great prophet of truth and non-violence—"Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.”
Our goal today is to spread the message that non-violence, tolerance, respect for human rights, media for peace and democracy, and development are interlinked and mutually reinforcing. It is our duty to use our highest human potential, and our most creative thinking based on the values of truth, justice and human rights for all. I am convinced through my own personal experience that non-violence is the only tool to achieve lasting peace where all people in the society would enjoy their freedom without any discrimination on the basis of sex, caste, religion, origin and others.
Even during the decade-long armed conflict in Nepal, IHRICON conducted several programs like trainings for the community members and around the cantonments of the PLAs (Maoist People’s Liberations Army troops) on reconciliation and social harmony. IHRICON provided training on DDR/SSR, reconciliation & rehabilitation. IHRICON reached an historic point by publishing the Peace Module Training Directive. We are very proud to state that Woman Community Peace Volunteers were established to support the achievement of sustainable peace and also to allow women to be empowered for the first time in Nepal. Now, it is a matter of pride and satisfaction that more than 500 Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRD) produced by IHRICON are actively working in their respective villages across the country as close friends of the victimized women and girls where formal remedies are yet to reach them.
The quantity of the donors agreeing to assist IHRICON has increased as a result of this success. IHRICON has had an opportunity to work with Save the Children Norway (SCNN), Canadian Cooperation Office (CCO), VSO, British Embassy, Embassy of Finland, UNIFEM, AED, USAID, Chemonics International Inc., OTI, Medica Mondiale, ESP, Care Nepal, UNFPA, Oxfam, IANSA, Breakthrough, International Alert, and Saferworld. Whilst working with all these reputed organization has proved effective and inspiring, the more important aspect is that the supporting agencies are very satisfied with the works IHRICON undertook.
Finally, IHRICON has a dedicated team to fight against violence and discrimination. The team looks forward for suggestions, feedback and support from likeminded agencies and individuals. We believe on team-work, togetherness and alliance. Therefore, we invite men and boys to give their valued time for the women's rights. Similarly, women will take care of men who are victimized by patriarchal practices. May the world be respectful and supportive to each-other!